Hello cat people! Let me introduce today’s guest on Who are the Cat Writers’ Association? Sandra Toney, a freelance writer with a formidable body of work.
Tell us a bit about your writing.
I’ve been writing for over 25 years. I have a B.A. in Political Science, but when I took elective classes, I always went for the writing classes and excelled. One of my professors said I should look into becoming a writer as a career. And here I am.
I first wrote about everything, but cats were such a huge part of my life that I started writing simple cat stories for a small newsletter. Eventually, I saw an ad in Writer’s Digest (old print magazine) in the 1990’s from Amy Shojai asking people to join Cat Writers’ Association if they liked writing about cats. That’s when I solely started writing cat articles and never looked back. I’ve always been a freelancer. I’ve written probably close to 1,000 articles and eight books about cats over my career.
How do cats inspire your creativity?
Whenever I have a question about something my cat Angel does or doesn’t do that I don’t know the answer to, it usually becomes an article. I research it and think that if I don’t know the answer to something, I’m guessing some others don’t either. I worked at a no-kill animal shelter for ten years in the cat department. That’s where so many of my articles came from during those years. I witnessed many illnesses, behavior problems, and fun things to do with the cats at the cage-free shelter. I wrote about them and learned right along with my readers.
What do you enjoy about belonging to CWA?
CWA has been a lifesaver for me. Meeting Amy Shojai through old-fashioned pen-to-paper letters is what started my journey with CWA. She told me how to become a member, and I won a Special Award my first year. At the Awards Ceremony, I remember looking out at the crowd and seeing so many “famous” faces. I was giddy. It was MY Oscar night. The other members have become good friends, and I don’t know what I would do without them.
I quit writing for almost ten years because my husband was very ill. He died in 2020 and the CWA members rallied around me when I tried my hand at cat writing again. I was scared they had forgotten me. (I did keep up my membership dues even when I wasn’t actively writing). I had almost zero confidence that I even COULD still write. But my CWA family encouraged me, and it’s such a blessing to know all of them. And I guess I can still write because I’m getting published again after such a long absence.
Please answer any 3 (or more if you’re inspired) of the following questions. You may be as brief, wordy, serious, humorous, or creative as you wish.
- What is your favorite cat movie and why?
“Homeward Bound.” I cried a lot when the cat Sassy, a beautiful Himalayan, got separated from the dogs, but it was a happy ending.
- Did you grow up with cats?
Yes, I grew up on a farm in northern Indiana. I mainly had barn cats, and some were semi-feral. I loved working with those cats, even as a young girl, to get them to gain my trust and tame them. Sometimes I was the only person who could touch them, but they always trusted me.
- Do you sing to cats? If so, what songs do you sing?
I sing a song called “Mommy and Me.” I think it’s made up. At least my version is. Ha. I think my cat Angel cringes a bit when I sing it.
- Where are you sitting right now? From where you are, how many cat-themed objects can you see?
I’m in my office at my computer. I only see 28 cat-themed objects including a cat mouse pad and a cat coaster. I thought there were more.
- How would you identify your cat in a lineup?
Angel would be the one meowing the loudest for no apparent reason.
Please tell us more about Angel.
Angel is a 12-year old calico. My husband and I adopted her from the no-kill shelter where I used to work. She loved him dearly, but now it’s just the two of us.
Thank so much for being with us today, Sandra, and for bringing Angel along with you!
You can read one of Sandra’s articles, “Can’t Have a Cat? Sponsor One,” here.